Arts, Culture, and Humanities

BEHIND THE BOOK INC

  • New York, NY
  • www.behindthebook.org

Mission Statement

Behind The Book's mission is to inspire New York City public school students to love reading by bringing accomplished authors and their books into classrooms and creating rich, innovative literacy programs.

Our programs take place in underserved public schools, are part of the class curricula and meet the Common Core Learning Standards.

Main Programs

  1. In-School Literacy Programs
Service Areas

Self-reported

New York

Brooklyn:
Bedford Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, Crown Heights

the Bronx:
Allerton, Mott Haven, Norwood

Manhattan
Lower East Side, Inwood, Harlem

ruling year

2003

Executive Director since 2003

Self-reported

Jo Umans

Keywords

Self-reported

Education, Literacy, Engagement, Authors

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EIN

32-0086097

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

Elementary, Secondary Ed (B20)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

Behind The Book's (BtB) mission is to inspire New York City public school students to love reading by bringing accomplished authors and their books into classrooms and creating rich, innovative literacy programs. Working in Pre-K through 12th grades, BtB develops customized programs that are incorporated into class curricula and meet the Common Core Learning Standards. For all age levels, we provide structured classroom preparation for the teachers; an engaging creative writing project led by an author and supplemented by writing coaches and research aides; and a deep collaboration between teacher, author, students and BtB staff and volunteers. Our organization purchases books for each student – often the first book a student has owned – and additional books for classroom and school libraries. Programs frequently incorporate arts projects and field trips. Many programs culminate with BtB designing and publishing an anthology of the students' work – their own book – and providing copies for each student to keep.

Our organization works exclusively in Title I schools. In our most recently completed school year, 78% of the students in the school we serve were from low-income households; 21% were English Language Learners and 19% of our classes were special education. The youth population we serve is approximately 43% African American, 44% Latino, 3% white and 10% Asian American.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

In-School Literacy Programs

Behind the Book (BtB) elevates literacy in students in under-resourced New York City public schools. Our organization works directly in classrooms, partnering with teachers to design and implement programs that motivate students to pick up a book, read it to the final page, and ask for the next book. BtB programs strengthen reading engagement, which literacy professionals identify as one of six criteria needed to develop reading, writing and communication skills – and the only one of the six criteria that is independent of socio-economic factors.

Behind the Book launches each program by working closely with the teacher to select an author whose book will resonate with students, reflect the classroom’s diversity, and match the students’ capabilities. We develop a custom workshop series that teaches the book and transitions the reading material into creative writing projects; drafting a curriculum plan with instructional strategies and providing resource materials.

Our programs comprise between four and eight workshops, depending on the age level and class capabilities. Elementary school classes average seven to eight sessions while high school classes average four to five sessions. (Older students read longer books, produce more in-depth writing projects, and have more complex class schedules.) BtB Program Coordinators are present in each workshop and give ongoing support throughout the program to ensure successful implementation. All programs are designed to meet Common Core Learning Standards and are customized to fit the class curriculum.

BtB also donates thousands of books to students and school libraries annually. Every student receives a copy of the anchor text, or the book the program is designed around. The classroom and school library receive not only the anchor text, but books on subjects related to the content area or workshop topic, and/or additional books by the author the class is connected to. For many classes, BtB prints professionally designed and published anthologies of the class projects for the students – additional books which they authored themselves.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Budget

$569,000

Results

Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

1. Number of students who demonstrate writing ability

Target Population
Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Connected to a Program?
In-School Literacy Programs
TOTALS BY YEAR
Context notes for this metric
This metric is measured through teacher pre- and post surveys. In the 2015-16 school year, teachers reported that 85% of students completed higher quality written work after a BtB program.

2. Number of books distributed

Target Population
Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Connected to a Program?
In-School Literacy Programs
TOTALS BY YEAR
Context notes for this metric
BtB distributes books to students and to classroom and school libraries as part of our literacy programs.

3. Number of works published from new writers

Target Population
Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Connected to a Program?
In-School Literacy Programs
TOTALS BY YEAR
Context notes for this metric
BtB published 20 student anthologies, making 728 students published writers and illustrators.

4. Number of students who demonstrate improved overall literacy

Target Population
Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Connected to a Program?
In-School Literacy Programs
TOTALS BY YEAR
Context notes for this metric
This metric is measured by teacher pre- and post-surveys. in the 2015-2016 school year, teachers reported that 83% of our students demonstrated improved overall literacy after a BtB program.

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    Our organization's goal is to develop a new generation of readers and writers. In the process, we nurture critical thinking, self-confidence, personal growth and self-sufficiency. Our focus on creating engaged readers in under-resourced schools helps seed opportunity for socioeconomic mobility in low-income communities. We expose students to new, culturally diverse experiences through repeat interaction with accomplished authors, arts-based projects, and field trips to museums, historical sites, and cultural sites throughout the city.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    1. Customizable Programs: Behind the Book invests individual attention in each classroom. We work with the teacher to develop programs that are appropriate to the class's starting reading level, but that scaffold material in a way that encourages higher-level thinking. Our programs can be customized for populations that include English Language Learners and special education classes.

    2. Diverse Literature: Whenever appropriate, BtB utilizes a book that reflects the students' own lives and introduces the classroom to an accomplished author with a background similar to theirs. The real-world connection established by meeting the author and reading books that are familiar, vivid and relevant is key to fostering reading engagement.

    3. Book Ownership: Behind the Book purchases at least one book for every student to keep. Book ownership helps our students identify as readers and adds reading material to their home. Books are also donated to the school and class libraries. Easy access to books is essential to sustaining the engagement created by BtB after our program is completed.

    4. Multiple Workshops: Each BtB program involves at least four and up to eight workshops to foster reading-based social and academic interaction among students. We also introduce the students to adults outside their usual circle: authors, artists, and volunteer research aides and writing coaches with diverse occupations. Field trips expose them to new neighborhoods. Our programs broaden our students' real world experience while developing literacy skills.

    5. Creative Final Projects: Programs culminate in a writing project that reinforces all that they have learned. Behind the Book celebrates students' voices by publishing their work in a class book or by creating a public exhibit of their work. Mastery experiences like this demystify success and increase our students' confidence and willingness to try more challenging tasks. See examples of our student anthologies here: http://www.behindthebook.org/programs/gallery-of-student-work/
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Behind the Book has over 13 years of experience delivering innovative literacy programs to New York City public schools. In our first year, BtB coordinated 15 author visits. In the 2015-2016 school year, we produced nearly 300 workshops in 53 classrooms in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan. Since our founding, we have served more than 12,800 students and donated more than 17,500 books to students and school libraries.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    As described above, BtB evaluates programs each semester. Our process is designed to gauge change in reading engagement, self-efficacy, motivation, understanding of reading and writing strategies, and overall improvements towards attitudes about reading. We administer teacher pre- and post-surveys and student post-surveys, as well as conduct individual interviews with principals, teachers, and students.

    In past evaluations, students and teachers were overwhelmingly positive about BtB programs. Teachers conveyed that the students' culminating projects were a key motivating factor, and reinforced the lessons that were taught. Students reported that the programs increased their confidence, especially through the opportunity to build a relationship with an author and have a voice in their own learning process.

    Our organization also periodically engages outside consultants to evaluate our programs. In an external evaluation, Dr. Rob Horowitz of Columbia University found that more than 90% of our partner teachers reported increased reading comprehension in their students, and 82% reported improved literacy skills. In the same study, 91% of teachers reported that students enjoyed reading more and 82% reported that students were more engaged and motivated to read.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Since the organization's founding in 2003, Behind the Book has served over 12,800 students and distributed 17,500 books to students, classrooms, and school libraries. We are now actively serving 15 schools with a minimum of three classes per school (generally more). In the 2016-2017 school year, our organization will operate 63 programs in 15 schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan. We will donate another 3,500 books and serve 1,700 additional students. However, Behind the Book currently has a waiting list of 15 schools that want our programs and meet our criteria for need. We welcome public support that would bring our programs to these schools, and more.
Service Areas

Self-reported

New York

Brooklyn:
Bedford Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, Crown Heights

the Bronx:
Allerton, Mott Haven, Norwood

Manhattan
Lower East Side, Inwood, Harlem

Social Media

External Reviews

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

BEHIND THE BOOK INC
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

BEHIND THE BOOK INC

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2015 and 2014
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.

Executive Director

Jo Umans

BIO

Jo worked for 25 years in television production. She was an Associate Director and Script Supervisor on shows including Good Morning America, Kate and Allie, The Chris Rock Show, and Liberty! The American Revolution. Her experience running the visiting-author program in her son's school inspired her to leave her career in television to found Behind the Book.

Jo has led the organization from an idea to a $569,000 and rising budget. This year Behind the Book will complete 63 programs in 15 schools resulting in hundreds of unique workshops.


Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Emmelene Lee

Houlihan Lokey

Term: Mar 2015 - Mar 2017

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization

Yes

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Yes

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Yes

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Yes

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

No

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?